Give your students the tools they need to both interpret and successfully write research papers with this lesson. Researching and reporting findings is an increasingly important part of literacy and writing, as well as many other content areas. Researching topics of interest gives deeper understanding and more ability to connect with nonfiction and expository text. Being able to clearly and accurately inform and communicate findings through writing is a valuable skill that students will need in many areas of their lives. Preparing students with tools for successfully navigating this type of writing will have a long lasting effect, and will provide useful tools for other types of writing. Gathering and summarizing key information will also be a powerful tool for academic reading and writing throughout upper grades and higher education. As part of the lesson, the students will be able to participate in research writing to create an expository paragraph that shares their findings.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:
- At this level, research is basic and is shared research, led by the teacher, but written about by the students.
- Ask students what nonfiction topics they are interested in. Ask questions such as “What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite thing we learned in science or history?
- Listen to responses. Say, “All the things you mentioned provided great topics for our shared research paper.
- Ask students if they can describe a research paper, or if they’ve ever written one. Listen to responses. Clarify or explain that the purpose of a research paper, to provide factual answers and explanations about a nonfiction (real life/not fake) topic.
- Choose one topic to model creating a research outline on the board. For example, write “The Octopus” on the board.
- Model the steps of creating a simplistic shared research outline on the board that relates to your topic. Your outline should look like this:
Hook (an interesting statement that makes readers curious to read more)
Conclusion- restate the topic
Final statement- end with something memorable that ties to the information you shared, or a call to action- something you want your readers to do.
Note: Explain that you can place a transition sentence in place of the conclusion if you want your students to write a second paragraph. In that case, repeat the beginning of the outline and add the conclusion and final though/call to action at the end.
- As a class, fill in the outline as best you can according to your topic. Depending on the topic, there may be more than three facts or none at all. If there are many, you can model creating a second paragraph as listed above. If there are a only a few facts, explain that this where research comes in.
- At this point, let your students independently complete a brainstorming session to choose a topic they would like to research. While they write, walk around the class and ask for students to share topics with you. Redirect or suggest different topics or subtopics if students are choosing something too difficult or broad to research in a few days.
- Bring the class back together. Ask for volunteers to share a few topics.
- As a class, vote on a topic and select one, or select several if you plan to work with students in groups.
- Ask students if they know how to research. Since this is shared research, the teacher will be providing the material and walking students through it, but you should find out what students know. Ask “What sources will we use to find information?”
- Discuss reliable sources, choosing multiple valid sources, and how to take information without plagiarizing. If students are not familiar with navigating online research, tips for finding reliable sources can be found here: http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic32.htm.
Common Core State Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.7, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.8, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.7, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.8
Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 4-5 class sessions
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